If links are the backbone of organic search engine optimization, then local citations are the backbone of local SEO. A local citation is anywhere on the internet where your business name, address, and phone number are listed together. These are also referred to as NAP (Name, Address, Phone) listings. Local citations are a strong indicator to Google, Bing, and Yahoo that your business is located in a specific location, or serves a certain area. NAP listings / local citations are incredibly valuable to local service based businesses.
Why Do Local NAP Citations Matter?
A majority of local businesses serve customers in one city or one metro area. When a potential customer goes on Google to search for your service, he/she will typically type something like “chiropractor in Austin.” Depending on where the user’s IP address is geolocated, Google will serve the listings that Google thinks are most relevant to the searcher. If you have strong local listings in place that reinforce to Google that your chiropractic office is located in Austin, then you will have a better chance of showing in the map pack at the top of the search results. Ever since Google trimmed down the map pack to only show 3 results, these top spots are more competitive than ever.
How To Build Local Citations
The single most important rule of local citation building is to build with consistency. Back in the day, Google’s algorithms were not as complex as they are today, so something as small as having “HWY” instead of “Highway” was enough to ruin a local listing campaign. Now, Google seems to be better at recognizing those nuances, but in my experience it still helps immensely to have consistency across your name, address, and phone number.
Since there are so many nuances in how an address can be listed, it is always best to go to the source to find how your address should look: Google Maps. Start by going to Google Maps and search your address. Google will return a search result with the way that the address is used in their map making data base.
5508 W Hwy 290 Ste 250, Austin, TX 78748 and 5508 West US Highway 290, Suite #250, Austin, TX 78748 are technically the exact same address, but Google uses the former in their system, which means you should too.
Where Should You Build Local Citations?
There are huge amounts of websites around the web that feature local citations, but here is a sample list of some of the most powerful and reputable websites for NAP listings:
Local Citations for Businesses With Multiple Locations
Local citations get significantly more difficult when working with a business that has multiple locations, because if implemented wrong, Google could interpret the 2 different locations as bad data for one location, and in turn demote both in the search results. In order to avoid running into problems with multiple locations, follow these steps:
1. Create a unique page on your website for each location (eg: mywebsite.com/austin and mywebsite.com/houston)
2. On each unique page, make sure you have a unique address and phone number. Even if both offices use the same 800 number, try and use mask or tracking numbers so each one is unique.
3. Add schema markup code to each NAP to make sure Google can parse out the important contact info from your pages.
4. When building local citations and links for the Austin location, use the url mywebsite.com/austin. When building local citations for the Houston location, use the mywebsite.com/houston url, for example.
5. Build a unique Google Places page for each location using your NAP info and begin collecting reviews for all locations. Once you get over 5 reviews, your map pack listing is eligible to start showing the coveted yellow review stars.
6. Add a rel=“publisher” code on each location page of your website linking to its respective Google Places page.
Getting Local SEO Results
If done properly, a good local citation campaign alone can return some pretty impressive ROI. Since the search queries that you will be showing for are highly targeted and localized, they are also more qualified than a broad search.
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